Driving through the inlands of Alagoas, it is visible even to the untrained eye, that this land hasn’t seen enough rain in months. It turns out that the truth is worse. In the past two years, rain has been sparse. People hope that this year’s raining season that is just about to start will be better.
Besides dried out land and meager cows, one of the consequences of this prolonged drought is the increased risk of black-outs. Hydropower is the main source of electricity in Brazil and the dam of Xingo on rio São Franciso is the third most important of the entire country as the guide didn’t tire to repeat.
The dam and the large reservoir are shared between the two states of Alagoas and Sergipe. It’s only possible to visit the plant with a guided tour which makes a lot of sense but, as so often, requires a sound mastery of Portuguese. After being shown a short movie, we went by car to the dam, being able to see the spillway and then on to the turbine hall. There isn’t much to see of the turbines themselves though you can guess which company build them after seeing the big Willkommen sign outside.
What I found missing were more details about the generation process. Maybe it was my Portuguese, maybe it just wasn’t there but I wouldn’t have mind hearing more about how you convert falling water into something that powers my laptop instead of being told over and over how important this dam is.
Still, it was time and money well spent learning more about this part of the country and its development.